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Murder Investigation in Bell County

Date of News Release: 07/23/2016

Murder Investigation in Bell County Murder Investigation in Bell CountyMurder Investigation in Bell County

PINEVILLE, Ky. (July 23, 2016) - On July 23, 2016 at 2:58 a.m. Kentucky State Police, Post 10 Harlan received a call from Bell County Dispatch about a male individual that had been shot on Dorton Branch Road in the Pineville community of Bell County. Deputies from Bell County Sheriff's Department along with Tpr. Josh Messer and Tpr. Taylor Mills responded to the scene. Once troopers arrived at the scene they located a male individual deceased from a gunshot wound.

Preliminary investigation indicates that several individuals were in a wooded area off of Dorton Branch Road in a Jeep Cherokee. Melissa Sanchez, 39, of Fourmile admitted to shooting Houston Lankford, 37, of Fourmile. Mr. Lankford was pronounced deceased at the scene by the Bell County Coroner Jay Steele.

Ms. Sanchez was arrested at the scene and has been charged with murder. She is being lodged in the Bell County Detention Center.

Mr. Lankford has been sent to the State Medical Examiner's Office in Frankfort for an autopsy. At this time the case is still under investigation by Det. Bryan Johnson. Also assisted at the scene were Lt. Randy Surber, Det. Josh Cox, Tpr. Josh Messer, Tpr. Taylor Mills, Bell County Sheriff's Department, Bell County Coroner Jay Steele and Bell County EMS.